Airstrikes and a ground offensive by Turkey in northern Syria against Kurdish forces have left civilians dead and forced tens of thousands to flee, UN agencies said on Friday, amid fears of another “humanitarian catastrophe” in the war-torn country.
Expressing concern about the military campaign launched on Wednesday, the UNs emergency relief chief Mark Lowcock noted that the Turkish Government had “assured me that they attach maximum importance to the protection of civilians and the avoidance of harm to them”.
Speaking to journalists in Geneva, Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that Thursday had seen “intense shelling all along the north-eastern Syrian border with Turkey, from Jarablus, to the west of the Euphrates, to the Iraqi border”.
Highlighting the potential for further suffering for Syrians caught up in more than eight years of war, Christian Cardon de Lichtbuer, from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that “we have there all the ingredients for unfortunately yet another humanitarian crisis in Syria”.
UN human rights office confirms eight civilian deaths
As of Thursday evening, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, reported that seven civilians, including two women and a boy, had been killed in the first two days of the Turkish operation.
A male civilian man was also reported killed in Jarablus on Wednesday, OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said, adding that a woman and a boy were injured yesterday, during “counter-attacks and ground strikes” by Kurdish non-State armed groups.
In response to the mass displacement of people from the northern border area, mainly to Al-Hasakeh district, the World Food Programme (WFP) has provided ready-to-eat meals to around 11,000 people there, with the help of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).
WFP supports close to 650,000 people in north-eastern Syria via a field hub in Qamishli; around 580,000 are currently in areas under Kurdish control, it said in a statement.
“Mass population displacement has been reported since the escalation of violence”, said WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel. “Over 70,000 people from Ras al-Ain and Tal Abiad have been displaced so far.”
UN food agency will cover needs of the displaced
Several thousand more have move to Raqqa governorate since the beginning of Operation Peace Spring by the Turkish military on Wednesday, Mr. Verhoosel added, while many other were on their way to shelters in Raqqa city, “where WFP will be covering their food needs”.
Although UN humanitarian staff remain in Qamishli, “their ability to operate and provide relief is severely restricted” by the hostilities, OCHAs Mr. Laerke explained, adding that local authorities were also reportedly “imposing some quite strict security measures at checkpoints”.
Linked to the military campaign, Marixie Mercado from the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) said that the Alouk water pumping station reportedly came under attack early on Thursday.
“This is a station that provides safe water to at least 400,000 people in Hassakeh governorate, including displacement camps,” she said
In Tal Abiad, two schools have been reportedly taken over for military use, Ms. Mercado added, while child protection programmes have been suspended in Ras al-Ain, Mabrouka camp, Tal Halaf, Sulok and Tal Abiad.
Health and Nutrition response in Ras al-Ain and Mabourka camp had also been put on hold, while schools in these areas have closed and the water supply has been affected.
Asked whether any Syrian refugees had been seen returning to a so-called safe zone either side of the Turkey-Syria border, Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), said that he had “no information” of any Syrian refugees doing so.
Any such buffer zone would have to set up “with full international humanitarian law safeguards in place, including the consent of the Government and warring parties and the zone being of civilian character, the safety of civilians would be hard to guarantee”, the UNHCR spokesperson added.
So-called safe zone is not managed by UN
Echoing those comments, OCHA highlighted the vulnerability of those displaced by the conflict and the uncertainty surrounding a so-called buffer zone cleared of Kurdish fighters on the border, reportedly proposed by Turkey.
“Its not something thats been set up by humanitarians, it is a zone that has been set up by military planners in Turkey,” said Mr. Laerke. “We do not control it and we have not been involved in the planning of it.”
After more than eight years of war in Syria, needs are “significant and widespread”, Najat Rochdi, Senior Humanitarian Adviser to the UN Special Envoy for Syria, reiterated in Geneva on Thursday.
Over 11 million people require some form of humanitarian assistance, she said, including 4.7 million living in areas of high severity of need.
Amid uncertainty about how the military campaign will develop, the ICRC reiterated concern about the lack of basic services available to those displaced in the coming days and weeks, in towns and cities levelled by bombardment and shelling in a bid to drive out ISIL forces.
“People are moving inside Syria, so we can assume, yes, they will go towards (the) south,” said the international Red Cross committees Mr. de Lichtbuer. “With the complexity and so areas like Deir-Ez-Zor, and Raqqa, which are not necessarily places that can welcome thousands of people, we will see how it evolves in the coming hours, because it is moving very fast.”
Thomson Reuters World-Check slammed as Islamophobic, Misleading and Unreliable
Shaun Cunninghame – An investigative documentary by Aljazeera TV Network described Thomson Reuters W..
Shaun Cunninghame – An investigative documentary by Aljazeera TV Network described Thomson Reuters World-Check as misleading and deliberately Islamophobic. The renowned documentary exposed how the Thomson Reuters World-Check London based company destroyed the lives of innocent civilians who were banned from travel and had their bank accounts closed.
The 52-mintue long documentary, “The Hidden is More Immense” revealed how the World-Check product – part of Thomson Reuters Company – has sourced a database of millions of names of Journalists, politics, political activists and member of the public and labelled them as “Terrorists”, “Convicted Terrorists” or involved in financial crimes, money laundering and terrorism. It also added that many charities, NGOs and even mosques have had their bank accounts closed due to being falsely labelled as “terrorists”
The documentary presented by investigative Journalist Tamer Misshal traced how World-Check built its database which turned to be on unreliable and inaccurate sources as fake blogs, unknown websites (with no ownership declared). Additionally, the documentary revealed that many of the sources used are often sent by repressive governments in the Middle East such as Israel, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and other countries. In some cases, some of sources are published by intelligence agencies and semi government agencies.
The documentary interviewed two Law offices in London and Brussels which confirmed that World-Check service is relying on “basic search on google” to source information against individuals.
Thomson Reuters World-Check has already lost several lawsuits in London and expected to concede in some ongoing cases.
Meanwhile, World-Check claims to help protect businesses from financial crime and “reduce risk by fulfilling your KYC due diligence screening obligations with accurate and structured information. World-Check Risk Intelligence is used and trusted by the worlds biggest companies” It also state on its website that it is an Intelligence database which delivers accurate and reliable information to help entities such as banks, financial and other institutions make informed decisions.
It also claims to have “hundreds of specialist researchers and analysts across the globe, adhering to the most stringent research guidelines as they collate information from reliable and reputable sources – such as watch lists, government records, and media searches.”
Contrary to the literature and objective of World-Check the Aljazeera Documentary raises the alarm of integrity and ethics on how this service operates. For example, journalists interviewed in the documentary argued clearly that the World-Check staff dont spend more than two minutes on reviewing or updating profiles of names included.
Pathetic, this contradiction has been apparent in 2017 where World Check confessed that its staff were incompetent and disqualified as elaborated by Tom Keatinge who argued, “According to the Particulars of Claim between Finsbury Park Mosque and World-Check owner Thomson Reuters, the information provided by World-Check to banks consists of “continually updated intelligence” providing an “early warning system for hidden risk”. Yet, it is claimed, the profile reports are compiled by “unqualified staff on the basis of open source data, in particular by means of Google searches”. Furthermore, “the profile reports are not subject to independent checks” and those that are the subject of these compiled profiles are not given an opportunity to check or correct these reports.”
Peter Oborne has accused World-Check earlier of abusing the definition and concept of terrorism and described the service as “inflammatory and toxic”. Oborne who extensively wrote on World-Check revealed that, “Banks are unfairly targeting Muslims. Now ministers must end this injustice”
Distributed by Newswire Now. A non-profit news publisher, www.newswirenow.co.uk
Closure of detention centre exposes migrants and refugees to even worse conditions
Following the closing of a detention centre in Misrata, refugees and migrants have been moved to oth..
- Following the closing of a detention centre in Misrata, refugees and migrants have been moved to other facilities in Libya
- They are being exposed to increasingly inhumane and dangerous detention conditions.
- More life-saving evacuations outside Libya are needed, as are alternatives to detention. Without such measures, vulnerable people will continue to be condemned to endless detention and exposed to major threats and suffering.
On 14 October, Libyan authorities closed the Karareem detention centre in Misrata, in the central coastal region of Libya, and transferred more than a hundred refugees and migrants arbitrarily detained in this facility to two other detention centres in the same region, Zliten and Souq Al Khamees.
The conditions of detention in these two centres are known by Libyan authorities and UNHCR to be extremely bad, as reported by MSF teams on several occasions.
“Closing one detention centre would be a positive step if refugees and migrants were provided freedom of movement, protection and assistance.” – Sacha Petiot, MSF Head of Mission in Libya.
Men, women and children arbitrarily detained for months and, in many cases, years, with little access to food, water and open air, will be exposed to the same inhumane conditions. Some of them suffered torture and trafficking during their stay in the country.
“Closing one detention centre would be a positive step if refugees and migrants were provided freedom of movement, protection and assistance,” says Sacha Petiot, MSF head of mission in Libya. .
“But here, they are moved from one detention centre to another, seeing their conditions go from bad to worse and stuck in an endless cycle of despair and violence. At the bare minimum, they should have been released and taken care of in a safer environment.” says Sacha Petiot, MSF head of mission in Libya.
The armed conflict that started in April around Tripoli has made the situation more dangerous for the refugees and migrants detained in the areas where clashes occur. In this grim context, the tragic death of an estimated 60 people during an airstrike on Tajoura detention centre late at night on 2 July prompted renewed calls for the closure of Libyas detention centres, including by Libyan authorities themselves.
There are currently no safe locations in Libya where refugees and migrants can find protection and assistance. The only UNHCR-managed facility, the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli, is now saturated and UNHCR has claimed that it cannot accommodate more vulnerable people.
“We need more life-saving evacuations outside Libya. And it is urgent to develop an alternative to detention, such as setting up shelters to provide immediate, temporary protection in Libya. Otherwise, the most vulnerable refugees and migrants are condemned to endless detention and exposed to major threats and suffering,” says Petiot.
New refugees arrive to Iraq in a week of violence in northeast Syria
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be..
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
For the fourth consecutive day, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has been receiving hundreds of refugees crossing the border into Iraq from northeast Syria. Refugees mainly come from towns in northern Syria – Kobani, Amoda and Qamishly and surrounding villages.
As of this morning, over 1,600 Syrian refugees have been transported from the border areas to Bardarash refugee camp, some 150 kilometres east of Syria-Iraq border. The site has been prepped to receive the latest arrivals fleeing the fighting in northern Syria.
Newly arrived refugees told our staff that it took them days to get to the border as they fled amid shelling and fighting. Most of the new arrivals are women, children and elderly. Their general physical condition appears to be good, but some required psychosocial support.
In support of the response led by local authorities, our teams and those of other aid agencies and partners have been working round the clock to transport refugees to the Bardarash camp and meet their immediate needs. Family tents are being pitched to provide shelter, water and sanitation systems have been put in place together with other basic facilities.
Upon arrival refugees are given hot meals, water, basic aid items including mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, jerrycans and other items. Medical teams with ambulances and a mobile medical unit are present to provide medical assistance if needed. Our teams are working with partners to provide services needed including pyscho-social support and protection services. The refugees are registered using biometric iris-scanning and their specific needs are assessed to determine what kind of assistance they may require.
Meanwhile in Syria, after a week of violence in countrys northeast, we and our partners have been able so far to provide life-saving assistance to nearly 60,000 newly displaced Syrians as well as to those forced to flee from one camp to another. Nearly 23,000 people have received core relief and winter items in the camps. UNHCR also provided same assistance to another 35,700 living in collective shelters and host communities.
The UN currently estimates some 166,000 people have been forced to flee their homes over the past seven days. Newly displaced families continue to seek shelter in camps, makeshift sites, communal shelters, with family, friends or acquaintances. Many of them have been displaced multiple times from one area to another in Al-Hassakeh, Tal Tamer and Raqqa.
Where possible, UNHCR teams conduct protection assessments and our response continues. Our protection partners identify those in need of specialized care and attention every day.
Violence has wreaked chaos among civilians, hitting the most vulnerable hardest. Our teams reported story of a child, a 13 year-old boy from Ras-Al-Ain, who ran for his life amid intense fighting and got separated from his parents. He followed the crowds and reached one of the communal shelters in Al-Hassakeh where UNHCR outreach volunteers tirelessly went through communal shelters until they were able to reunite the boy with his family.
Given the new and significant humanitarian needs, UNHCR reiterates its calls for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure. It is also critical that humanitarian workers are given unfettered humanitarian access to reach those newly displaced and assist them wherever this is required.
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